The head of drugmaker AstraZeneca, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus, made a statement amid the spread of a new, highly contagious strain of coronavirus. The vaccine is expected to be approved by the UK authorities this week.
Some people in the UK, where the new coronavirus is now spreading, are concerned that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being developed at Oxford University, may not be as good as Pfizer’s. Partial results suggest that AstraZeneca is approximately 70% effective in preventing diseases caused by coronavirus infection, compared to the 95% effectiveness reported by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
However, AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Sorio told the Sunday Times that the researchers have come up with a “winning formula” that makes their vaccine as effective as competing candidates.
“We think we’ve figured out the winning formula and how to achieve an efficacy that, after two doses, is on par with everyone else,” Sorio said. “I can’t tell you more now.”
The UK government says regulators are reviewing the final data from Phase 3 clinical trials of AstraZeneca. The Times and other media outlets report that vaccine approval can be expected by Thursday. The vaccines can begin to be distributed to the UK population in the first week of January.
When asked about the effectiveness of the vaccine against the new strain of coronavirus, Sorio said: “For now, we think the vaccine should remain effective. But we can’t be sure, so we’re going to check it out.”
British authorities have blamed the new strain of coronavirus for a sharp increase in the incidence in the country. It turned out to be much more viral, but authorities emphasize that there is no evidence that it causes a more severe course of COVID-19.
Many countries quickly banned entry from the UK, but since then, cases of the new strain have been reported in a dozen locations around the world.